A mid-season reflection: What are those turns worth?

As I’ve written before, I’ve spent a lot of the last handful of years thinking about death. Not in an abstract way—what is life; who am I?—but in an all-too-real, terribly concrete way: both professionally and for recreation, the pursuits I’m drawn to require us to undertake a great deal of risk, and lately I’ve read the accident reports of peers, colleagues, friends-of-friends, and role models who bore the consequences of that risk in the most catastrophic way imaginable. Continue reading “A mid-season reflection: What are those turns worth?”


2015: My Search for the Endless Winter

It was just after seven o’clock on what was shaping up to be an unseasonably warm, sunny, late September morning, and I sat perched on a rock outcrop at the top of St. Mary’s Glacier, about a thousand feet above the little hamlet of Alice, Colorado. I rifled fruitlessly through my pack, hoping to find something more appetizing than an ancient, misshapen Clif bar.

No-snow September. Bix’s face says it all.

Bix, long since resigned to going along with any number of harebrained schemes, fiddled with a half-empty Nalgene bottle, perhaps in an attempt to avoid making eye contact with the slope below us.

“And you’re sure this is a good idea?” he asked hesitantly, though he already knew the answer. Continue reading “2015: My Search for the Endless Winter”

Jack of all trades, master of my own destiny (or something)

I got a job the day I turned sixteen, and until this fall, I’ve held one job or another (sometimes more than one) ever since. They weren’t all great. Here is an incomplete sampling of jobs I’ve had:

  • Pet food salesgirl (my first, but not worst, job)
  • Abercrombie model (briefly, and yet somehow this does not make it less embarrassing)
  • Grocery store courtesy clerk/cart pusher
  • Horse groom
  • College campus catering intern, and, later, Queen of the Catering Interns (I was a tyrant)
  • Shoe salesperson at sport-store (they did not care that I did not sport)
  • Waitress/bartender (of course)
  • Indentured servant for large climbing-focused non-profit (this lasted another nine months after my semesterlong internship technically ended, and taught me how valuable my inability to say “no” is to the non-profit industry)
  • High school teacher
  • Kindergarten teacher
  • Teacher of hippie-dippy class at a school we literally called “Farm School” (we mostly Nordic skied)
  • I am counting graduate school because it took up SO MUCH TIME
  • Avalanche safety instructor (kind of—mostly for kids, but sometimes adults took me seriously, too)
  • Whitewater raft guide, also kind of
  • Backpacking instructor
  • Horse groom, again (these things always come full-circle)

Continue reading “Jack of all trades, master of my own destiny (or something)”

A dirtbag’s guide to self-selected families

Thanksgiving was never a really big deal in my family, which is perhaps part of the reason that—despite gluttony being my favorite deadly sin—I’ve never felt strongly about it one way or another.

Continue reading “A dirtbag’s guide to self-selected families”

North to the Future! (In which I experience a quarter-life crisis, Alaska-style)

When I first started making noises about moving to Alaska, it seemed like everyone had a Last Frontier story to tell—a cousin who’d come up to work in Denali for a summer and never left, a cruise or RV trip taken by a grandparent, a piece of Palin trivia, that sort of thing.

Continue reading “North to the Future! (In which I experience a quarter-life crisis, Alaska-style)”